Hapless Snail's Quest to Mate Thwarted, Again

Jeremy the left-curling snail's 2 potential mates turned to each other, snubbed him
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2017 3:30 PM CDT
Hapless Snail's Quest to Mate Thwarted, Again
A presumably luckier-in-love snail crawls on a leaf in this 2014 file photo.   (AP Photo/dpa, Patrick Pleul)

Meet Jeremy. He's looking for love but his genitalia are tough to access—and yes this is a PG-rated story. As NPR reports, the rare left-curling snail's story surfaced last fall when scientists at the University of Nottingham made a public bid to find other left-curling snails with which Jeremy could mate (his left-curling status means he can't align sex organs, which are located on the left side of the head, with normal right-curling snails). They found not one potential suitor, but two: Lefty, a UK woman's pet, and Tomeu, who was on his way to becoming a meal in Spain. Scientists stuck all three in the fridge—as one does to simulate snail hibernation, apparently—then took them out in the spring to see if lefty love might come alive. It did, but it was Lefty and Tomeu who were furiously mating.

Lefty and Tomeu produced three batches of eggs, and more than 170 snails have thus far hatched, per a press release, giving scientists the answer to the question of whether left-curling snails produce left-curling snails: Nope. At least not so far, notes Sky News, though scientists are hoping the trait might show in future generations. But all is not lost for Jeremy: Lefty has since returned home, and Angus Davison—the UK professor who has been studying the love triangle—is hoping that Jeremy and Tomeu turn to each other's, er, shells? Says Davison, Jeremy "has since become much more lively so we continue to hope that we can do the experiment and understand the genetics of all three snails, but for the moment only two of them have reproduced." As "simultaneous hermaphrodites," snails can do that. (No, those aren't snails on Pluto.)

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